Carnival Vista cruises cancelled to fix thruster

Carnival Cruise Line has cancelled three July departures of the 3,934-passenger Carnival Vista to fix a propulsion problem. The Vista is a relatively new ship that entered service in May 2016.

The problem left the ship only able to operate at reduced speeds. Carnival said the Vista has been operating on revised itineraries the last two cruises because one of its two azipod thrusters is not operating normally.

The cruises cancelled are the Vista’s July 6, 13 and 20 departures from Galveston, Texas. Guests will get a full refund of cruise fares and any pre-purchased excursions.

Carnival is offering a credit of 100% of the fare paid towards the cost of a future Carnival cruise. It has also offered up to $200 per person for independent air expenses or change fees.

“We sincerely apologize for the unanticipated disruption to your vacation plans. We are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to deliver the cruise we had planned for you,” a Carnival guest letter said.

Carnival said the seven-day cruise scheduled to depart on June 22 from Galveston will now be an eight-day cruise departing June 23.  The cruise scheduled for June 29 will now depart on July 1 and will be a similar eight-day cruise. After that, the ship will be out of service for 17 days while all azipod thruster bearings are replaced.

In a conference call with analysts about 2019 second-quarter earnings, Carnival Corp. CFO David Bernstein said fixing the problem will take longer than it might otherwise have because damage to the drydock at the Grand Bahama Shipyard made it unavailable.

The drydock was damaged when a crane collapsed while making repairs to the Oasis of the Seas in April.

In its second-quarter earnings statement, Carnival said 2019 earnings would be reduced by $62 million to $74 million by “voyage disruptions related to Carnival Vista.”

MSC Cruises More Details on Private Island Ocean Cay

Beaches at Ocean Cay

MSC’s Ocean Cay is set to welcome guests later this year to its private island experience in the Bahamas, with the cruise line releasing new details today.

Among the features are eight beaches; Seakers Family Cove, a shallow lagoon to play in with a beach for games, monitored by lifeguards; Seakers food court, which will be complimentary for guests; the Spa at Ocean Cay; various evening entertainment including a light show around the 98 ft. lighthouse at the centre of the island, a traditional Junkanoo parade — Bahamian festival and consisting of a feast of colourful costumes, music and dancing.; and shore excursions including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and stargazing in the evenings.

“The vision for the island is to immerse guests in the natural beauty of their surroundings in the Bahamas. Ocean Cay is founded on a deep commitment to ecological principles – beliefs that shape everything from how venues are built and how the island is run, to the kinds of activities featured on the island. Work is underway to design opportunities for guests to learn about the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs through dedicated edutainment programs,” MSC said, in a prepared statement.

Ocean Cay (Conrad Schutt)

As part of the development of Ocean Cay, MSC said it is working to establish the roadmap for the restoration of marine resources, including habitats and species present in the area. This will include the restoration of endangered corals and the implementation of other conservation and educational programs.

The island is situated within protected waters spanning 64 square miles, but the ambition is to further extend this parameter to ensure an even greater impact, MSC said.

MSC also said it had commissioned a Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) that provided a short term overview of the waters around Ocean Cay.

“An integral part of the marine ecosystem, coral needs to be protected as they maintain biodiversity, provide a habitat for marine life and protect coastlines,” the company said. “Now that the waters around the island are protected and it is no longer an industrial site once used for sand excavation, the seabed is returning to normal. The hope is that the coral will again begin to thrive. Plans are underway to establish a coral nursery on the East side of the island with the goal of propagating even more coral, particularly the more endangered varieties.”

The recent survey established that there are three types of coral that can be found in abundance — primarily Agaricia agaricites known as lettuce coral; Porites astreoides commonly known as mustard hill coral or yellow porites; and Siderastrea also known as massive starlet coral. These species are more capable of withstanding harsh temperature conditions and siltation than other species. Also found around the island during the assessment is the critically endangered Acropora palmata known as Elkhorn Coral. Four distinct colonies of this species were observed along the rocky shoreline of these cays. Over time these corals will become candidates for restoration in the coral nursery.

The Ocean Cay team is already seeing an increase in marine life in the area, and the REA identified 88 different species of fish around the island as well as lobster, sea turtles and rays.

Norwegian Ends Open Bar on Sun and Sky

Norwegian Sky

Starting in September, Norwegian Cruise Line will no longer offer its open bar on all Sky and Sun sailings, which was said to be a key selling point in a competitive short cruise market.

The Sky and Sun both sailed to Cuba recently with an open bar offering. The Sky went to the open-bar program in 2016, with the Sun following as she was positioned into the short cruise market

Guests were able to enjoy, for free, a variety of unlimited premium spirits, mixed cocktails, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to $11.

The ships will now operate under Norwegian’s popular “Free at Sea” marketing program, letting guests choose various perks, including free WiFi, shore excursions, or an open bar, for example.

Existing reservations on cruises departing on either ship after Sept. 7 will be honoured for the open bar program.